Why the church must return the Great Commission to top priority
However, as one of the fivefold ministries given to the church, my perspective as an evangelist belongs with that of the apostle, the prophet, the pastor and teacher. Taken together, these five visions equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.
So, what does this evangelist see? I see two disturbing trends:
First, I see churches that are not increasing. They sit in communities where the population is growing, children are born, immigrants move in, jobs attract new families, government programs attract the needy, yet these churches remain stagnant. They are growing inward, forgetting the imperative of the Great Commission.
Africa, the ‘dark continent’ of history, is lit today with revival. Is America the new dark land—and can the same light shine here?
Those familiar with my story know that early in my ministry God gave me a vision of a blood-washed Africa. I saw an entire continent washed in the blood of the Lamb. How preposterous it seemed at the time! Today, not so much. This vision led and guided me to the astonishing harvest we see in Africa today.
With these millions coming to Jesus, some American friends have begun to ask, “What about a blood-washed America? Can it happen here?” My answer is, “Yes, of course.” But I wonder, What sort of God do my American friends believe in? A God omnipotent in Africa and impotent in America? May it never be. The time has come to speak boldly of a blood-washed America. The gospel is the major force for change on earth, and I sense that America is ripe for change.
The church has been listening to the wrong voices. It has been paralyzed by lies. Professors of religion talk arrogantly of a post-Christian culture, as if this is somehow the graveyard of evangelism. Post-Christian? There is no such thing. The Word of God has never returned void in any generation. It has always remained quick, alive and sharper than a two-edged sword, no matter the label given by academia.
Knowing how Bibles are translated will help you pick the version you need
In translating any ancient text, determining how literal the translation should be must be decided first. To create a translation, one of three general methods is applied to the translating process: word-for-word or formal equivalence, in which the meaning of the original words is expressed; thought-for-thought or dynamic equivalence, in which the thoughts and ideas of the original text are expressed; paraphrase or functional equivalence, also a thought-for-thought method in which the thoughts and ideas of the original text are reworded for clarity or for a specific readership.
For this, the translator attempts a literal rendering of each word of the original language into the receptor language and seeks to preserve the original word order and sentence structure, without adding his ideas and thoughts.
Thus, the argument goes, the more literal the translation is, the less danger there is of corrupting the original message. Critics of this translation method say it assumes too much—specifically that the reader has a moderate degree of familiarity with the subject matter.
Also, a grammatically complete sentence does not always result from a word-for-word translation. Words must sometimes be added to complete the English sentence structure. Most printings of the King James Version, for example, italicize words that are implied but are not actually in the original source text. Thus, even a formal equivalence translation has at least some modification of sentence structure and regard for contextual usage of words.
The significance of a ministry shouldn’t be measured by the type of people it is reaching
The year: 1967. The location: Swallow Falls, Md. A 7-year-old red-headed boy jumps out of the car, eager to embark on a long-awaited adventure. The sound of the cool, rushing water beckons him as he races to the crown of the cascade. At the first glimpse of the waterfall, his curious mind starts to wonder, Where’s all this water going?
He jumps from rock to rock, working to gain a clearer view. Finally, he’s close enough to peer over the edge, but just as he catches the first glimpse, his foot slips. He quickly begins the slide downward, when out of nowhere a hand reaches out and grabs his arm. The boy holds his breath for fear that any movement might cause the hand to lose grip. Wide-eyed, he watches as a gold watch falls from the wrist and takes its place among the rocks below. At last, he breathes in relief as he’s pulled to safety.
Going beyond style to substance to empower the next generation in your church
Our church is overwhelmed with young converts. In fact, of the thousands that come to our services each week, more than 70 percent are younger than 29. And about 40 percent of them didn’t attend a church before they came to Substance Church. Pastors often ask me, “What are you doing to get all of these young people?” Honestly, that’s a critical question that the American church had better start asking soon.
Contrary to the exaggerated claims of attendance, as David Olson noted in The American Church in Crisis, only 9.1 percent of Americans attend any evangelical or charismatic church on a weekly basis. Even scarier is the fact that the vast majority of this number are quickly becoming senior citizens. In other words, there is a generation of young people who have totally given up on the church as we know it.
How to attract people who are ready to receive God’s Word
Is it possible to improve the environment of your church so that the seed of God’s Word has a better chance of growing? There is a movement of churches that believe so, and because of their ability to attract large numbers of people to their places of worship, these churches have been described as attractional. But is there biblical grounds for this model of ministry?
In the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew 13:1-23, Jesus presents the results of seeds sown in different environments—different types of soil. Some soil was not conducive to growth, and the seed was either stolen away, produced little fruit or didn’t grow at all. In other words, the Word could not produce fruit in the wrong environment. It sounds close to heresy to say that God’s Word needs the right environment to be effective, but according to the parable, this is the case.